Workers Refuse To Return To Indonesia Mine After Accident

Workers Refuse To Return To Indonesia Mine After Accident

"We also feel that the people under investigation, such as the head of underground operations and other managers, should be sent home so they don't interfere with investigations," Union spokesman Virgo Solossa said.

TIMIKA, Indonesia - Thousands of workers at a U.S.-owned mine in eastern Indonesia are refusing to return to work until investigations into one of the country's worst mining accidents are completed, a union said Friday.

Freeport-McMoRan resumed some operations Tuesday at its Grasberg gold and copper mine in Papua province after an almost two-week shutdown caused by a tunnel collapse that killed 28 workers. Ten others were rescued.

Some open-pit mining and milling operations were restarted, although Freeport said underground mining had not resumed due to maintenance work.

But a union that represents 18,000 of the more than 24,000 workers at the mine said its members would not return to work until investigations into the accident were complete.

Union spokesman Virgo Solossa said the decision was in line with Freeport policy to halt operations following accidents while probes were still ongoing.

"We also feel that the people under investigation, such as the head of underground operations and other managers, should be sent home so they don't interfere with investigations," he said.

Separate probes by the government and the company into the accident are being carried out but there has as yet been no indication what caused the tunnel to cave in on May 14 as 38 workers underwent a safety training session.

Solossa estimated the probes would likely take between one and two months.

Freeport's Indonesian subsidiary could not be immediately contacted.

The company has previously said it has enough stocks to meet existing orders.

Production was crippled at the mine in 2011 when thousands of workers went on strike for three months. The industrial action only ended when Freeport agreed to a huge pay hike.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013

TAGS: Safety
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